Thursday, May 15, 2014
Louis - A Good Father and a Good Man
Passing SB1182 is of high priority for me because of my father, Louis Rosenzweig. My father
worked as an employee of the US Post Office for 16 years before his condition forced him into
medical leave. While I was growing up, he taught me many things about life; being a man, taking
responsibility, how to drive, how to play baseball, to study hard, how to be a leader, among
countless others. He was a good father and is a good man.
After numerous misdiagnoses, in 2003, my father was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic
Dystrophy (RSD), also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). RSD is a chronic
neurological/neuropathic syndrome characterized by severe burning pain, burning sensations,
pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity
This leaves him in almost endless and random pain. One minute he'll be sitting on the couch watching TV, the next he'll have agonizing back/neck pain because he slightly moved his head. Stubbing a toe, something which you or I would get over after a minute or so, would be painful to him for the rest of the day, if not the next. Sunlight, light touch, and excess vibration can cause pain. It's a rare condition that can follow 5% of all nerve injuries, and can be caused by even minor injuries such as a sprain or a fall.
Things like going out to come visit me at my home, going to the theater to see a movie, going to family functions/holiday dinners, going to the ballpark to watch a game, etc. have been out
of the question since 2004. Going for a car ride can cause him to be in pain for days. He was barely
able to make it halfway through my sister's wedding reception this past November, luckily he made it through the ceremony. He has one of the worst cases of RSD known to his doctors.
My father was treated with various forms of medications and therapies. At many points during his treatment, it was impossible for him to hold a conversation with me or my family without these horrible pharmaceuticals affecting his memory, speech, and ability to stay awake. It should be noted that the effects of marijuana are much better tolerated than any of the medications he every took.
I was able to convince him to try vaporizing some cannabis a few times a couple of years
ago after the medical marijuana bill in the PA House died in committee, and it did help him without
causing any problems. Given its current illegal status, my dad is reluctant to use it on any kind of
regular basis. He rightly doesn't want to risk jail time, nor the jail time that someone helping him
obtain cannabis would face, if caught. His pain management physician is required to drug test him,
and as you well know, cannabinoid metabolites can persist in the human system for up to 30 days
after use. His pain management physician would be required to cease my father's pain medication
if he tested positive for marijuana. My dad could gain a palliative benefit and higher quality of life
by using marijuana as a regular part of his medical regimen. A study entitled "Effects of Vaporized
Marijuana on Neuropathic Pain" attempted to determine if participants would report a 30% or greater reduction in pain intensity, and concluded: "Ten of the 38 subjects (26%) who were exposed to placebo had a 30% reduction in pain intensity as compared to 21 of the 37 exposed to the low dose (57%) and 22 of the 36 receiving the medium dose (61%) of cannabis."
A "low dose" in this context is 1.29% THC by weight; "medium/mild dose" is 3.53% THC. Higher
doses were not tested. This study tested the conditions Neuropathic Pain, Reflex Sympathetic
Dystrophy, Peripheral Neuropathy, Post-herpetic Neuralgia, Spinal Cord Injury, and Multiple
Sclerosis. Besides the clinical research, which concluded that: "Psychoactive effects were minimal and well tolerated, and neuropsychological effects were of limited duration and readily reversible within 1 to 2 hours. Vaporized cannabis, even at low doses, may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain."
Numerous anecdotal reports have shown RSD and chronic pain patients to do better with medical
cannabis than without it. A 30% reduction in pain intensity might enable my father to reduce the
use of some of his other narcotic medications, thus helping avoid some of the more unsavory side
effects of said medications.
My father deserves the best possible treatment for his condition, and passing SB1182 would
give his doctors the freedom to provide written certification for medical marijuana. He could then
use it without fear of going to jail or losing his pain management physician. There is no possible
moral, ethical, or legal justification for denying him, or others like him, the medical
benefits of marijuana.
In addition to my father, my Grandmother would benefit from medical cannabis for her rheumatoid arthritis; my cousin Kellen, at only 2 years old, who had to undergo numerous chemotherapy treatments for liver cancer, could have had to endure less - or no - chemotherapy if cannabis oil were available to his physicians and hospital staff as a medical tool. A series of cannabis oil injections into the tumor site on his liver could have shrunk the tumor without causing damage to the liver, which unfortunately the chemotherapy did. His treatment regimen caused him hearing loss. Thankfully, he is in complete remission and is doing very well now. Many others are not so lucky. Chemotherapy can be very damaging to healthy cells and tissue, whereas cannabis oil is known to only kill cancer cells and leave normal tissue alone.